Mistakes to Avoid When Adopting New Habits

Have you wondered why people are easily trapped by bad, unhealthy habits like alcoholism, smoking, tech addiction, and the like than establishing and maintaining healthy and beneficial habits? Yes, most people are guilty of that, and science can explain why.

There are two reasons why it is just hard to adopt new habits. First, you lack an understanding of how habits are structured and how to leverage that structure to your advantage. Next, the goal seems overwhelming that you attempt to do too much too soon and set yourself up for failure.

These two reasons can be broken down into details.

The HABIT’S STRUCTURE. All habits have three main components: trigger, action, and reward.

The Trigger can either be from an external or internal environment that triggers you to take some sort of action.

The Action can either be seen as good or bad as long as you do something to adopt or drop a new habit.

The Reward fuels an action. This is the part of the habit cycle where the brain receives a reward for taking the desired activity.

No wonder people find it easier to adopt a new habit that is usually destructive as they have a built-in reward system that requires little or no input from someone practicing it. Activities like smoking cigarettes, snorting cocaine, or alcoholism are all easy habits to adopt because they either contain chemicals (such as nicotine in cigarettes) or the activity itself triggers the increase of dopamine and endorphins within the brain. These substances are also known as the “happy” chemicals that stimulate pleasure and satisfaction and act as a natural painkiller.

feet and a skateboard

Moreover, these substances have a natural capacity to reward the brain and encourage continued usage despite the adverse effect on one’s overall health and wellbeing.

Meanwhile, many positive habits such as physical training and exercise, meditation, and a healthy diet don’t have obvious immediate rewards that make them appear as challenging habits to achieve and master. However, it doesn’t mean that they can’t stimulate the brains. Eventually, through constant practice, they can make you feel satisfied and reward you for taking action.

Whether you want to get away from the bad habit of yelling at your kids, or the habit of overspending or achieving a 15-minute routine method, you need to dodge a bullet when doing or adopting positive habits. Also, you must know how to avoid some of the common mistakes when adopting new habits.


Starting Big

Why is starting big not a good idea when adopting a new habit? It’s because it will overwhelm you, and it will take much of your energy, time and even resources. When the habit becomes challenging, you will feel demotivated and tempted to go back to old habits.

a table with a book, tea cup, plate of grains

Simply start small. Create small and manageable, positive habits.

Hitting too many birds with one stone

This means you try to build too many habits at once. Adopting new habits must have timetables too. You will feel uncomfortable when trying to change too much at once. The number of habits you can build at one time depends on your capacity; however, stick to the rule of thumb: just do not over three at once.

Lack of patience

A new habit takes a while to stick to and be naturally become part of a routine. A common belief says that it takes 21 days to build a new habit; however, new studies reveal that it’s the minimum amount of time to take hold of a habit. According to most comprehensive studies, an average of 66 days to 300 days can be spent for habit development. It indeed requires so much patience.

Focusing too much on the benefit of the habit

Although results are good motivators, yet most of the time, it takes a while to see them. For example, if you adopt a physical exercise to lose weight, you’re not going to check on the weighing scale every time you finish a routine as you won’t see any good results right away. Stay focused on the development and progress of your habit.

Failing to control your environment

Where you do your training matters; if you want to adopt a new habit of a healthy diet when your fridge is full of chips, sugary drinks, donuts, high on carb and fatty foods, then it would be hard for you to maintain a healthy diet. Clear your surroundings from all distractions to your new habit.